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The consumption of meat is one of the largest contributors to emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide. This is partly indirect because 80% of for-agriculture deforestation is for the growing of fodder for farmed animals (see the sources in this post), partly more direct due to the high amounts of energy required for production and logistics of meat, partly due to rumination, partly due to other effects. For supporting research, see the answer to this and this question on Skeptics SE.

Despite all the evidence, policy discussions on reducing carbon footprints seem to be hardly about meat, if at all. Discussions seem to focus on industry, transportation, and electricity production, despite the fact that a reduction in meat consumption would have other benefits, besides a reduced carbon footprint. I speculate the reason it hasn't been discussed is because any suggestion on a meat tax would be hugely impopular with electorate.

Speculation aside, does a meat tax exist anywhere in the world? If yes, where? If no, has it been close to being introduced anywhere?

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    Yes, by "we don't want to get elected" Party. :) – user4012 Dec 18 '12 at 18:52
  • Oh, many green parties in the world propose it, and the Party for the Animals in The Netherlands has it as one of its foremost campaign-posts. – gerrit Dec 18 '12 at 19:07
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    Why is "Does a meat tax exist anywhere" not constructive? – gerrit Dec 18 '12 at 19:07
  • Why the downvote? – gerrit Dec 19 '12 at 19:39
  • beats me but I think I have invalidated the close vote via review. – user4012 Dec 20 '12 at 23:26
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In Turkey, as a legacy of its statist, centrally planned past, sales of meat and fish products are "regulated" by The General Directorate of Meat and Fish Institution.

This is the largest, if not the only, buyer of animals produced for slaughter in the Turkish market. As a state economic enterprise, its mission is defined as giving "good prices" to farmers which translates to paying more than what the farmers could obtain in a private market.

Simultaneously, the government imposes heavy taxes on imported meat so that domestic farmers' products remain attractive. The tax on imported meat varies around 100%.

This two pronged mechanism ensures that Turkish consumers pay more for all kinds of meat than they otherwise would. Therefore, economically, it is equivalent to a tax, except that it is hard to gauge the exact rate because there hasn't ever been much of a free market in meat and other food items in Turkey (except, possibly, for a brief period in the mid-90s).

In the United States, ethanol subsidies make it more expensive to feed cattle. The effect is economically equivalent to a tax on meat.

  • Interesting. Of course, agriculture in the EU is also heavily subsidised. I don't know about the US, but I'd be surprised if it was very different. – gerrit Dec 19 '12 at 1:02
  • I am not going to try to reverse the edits, however, please note that what you deleted is standard economic thinking, not opinion. It is a fact that taxes and subsidies don't disappear just because they cannot be rationalized using economic criteria. They persist because a small group benefits at the expense of a larger group, directly and indirectly. Usually, such policies are justified in terms of a greater good, but they regularly benefit only a few. – Sinan Ünür Dec 20 '12 at 19:16
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There doesn't appear to have been a tax on meat by any country (yet), but there are related taxes that have appeared:

  • The korobka in Russia was a tax on meat prepared in a kosher way, and on this same meat when purchased.
  • Some Jewish communities imposed a meat tax for communial purposes.

There are also some meat taxes in consideration:

  • The UK is considering taxes on meat pies and some other meat based goods.
  • Russia is considering a tax on unhealthy meats
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    ... because taxes on vodka were so greatly effective at combatting alcoholism there :) – user4012 Dec 19 '12 at 19:43
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Denmark recently introduced and abandoned tax on sugar and fat to encourage people to live healthier. The administrative costs were massive, though.

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    Could you please add a source to your claim? Links have the syntax of [title](link) – Sven Clement Dec 21 '12 at 9:40

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